November 3, 2020

Holy Princess Anna Vsevolodna (+ 1112)

Holy Princess Anna Vsevolodna (Feast Day - November 3)

The Holy Princess Anna Vsevolodna, also called Ianka, was daughter of the Kievan Great Prince Vsevolod Yaroslavich (1078-1093), whose wife Anastasia was daughter of the Roman Emperor Constantine Monomachos. Anna had been previously engaged to the Roman Prince Konstantios Doukas in 1074, but the marriage never materialized, as Konstantios Dukas was forced to become a monk in 1081 and died in 1082 before they could be married.

Anna did not wish to marry, and as a virgin she took monastic tonsure around 1086 at the Andreiev Yanchinov Monastery built for her by her father at Kiev, and became its first abbess.

In 1089, Anna led an embassy to Constantinople with the purpose of selecting a new Metropolitan of Russia. During her stay in Constantinople, she was impressed by the scholarly learning in Byzantium, at that time a center of culture and education, and upon her return to Rus, she introduced an innovation of learning for women. She returned in 1090 in the company of the newly-consecrated Metropolitan John the Eunuch.

After her return from Constantinople, she started a school for girls at her monastery. Her convent school was the first school for girls in Russia. She organized the school herself, selecting the teachers, preceptresses, requirements and curriculum, offering "writhing, needlework and other useful crafts", such as rhetoric and singing. Her innovation introduced the Roman tradition of education for upper class women in Kievan Rus, and during the 12th and 13th centuries, convent schools became common in Kievan Rus, founded and managed by Princesses, noblewomen and abbesses, and many aristocratic and clerical women became literate and educated in Greek and Latin, philosophy and mathematics and several nuns and abbesses noted writers.

Venerable Anna reposed in the year 1112 on November 3rd, and was buried at the Andreiev Yanchinov Monastery, which was later destroyed under the Tatar invasion.